2016 - Aachen - Trondheim, Norway
One person is very disappointed that I end this trip in Trondheim, Norway. Slartibartfast is disappointed that I have missed seeing the crowning achievement of his life's work. He won awards for it, and I only got to see a tiny part in Halden and Trondheim. Anyone know what Slartibartfast's greatest lifetime achievement was and where it was documented?
The observations I have this time are mostly about myself and my dream. This trip provided me with experiences and challenges that I will rembmber for the rest of my days. I got to see parts of Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway I would never have experienced so closely had I not taken this trip. Though I still look like the Michelen Man on a bicycle, I did manage to be up to the difficult physical challenges a trip like this presents. For that I am really grateful. I met some really nice people along the way, and even managed to share memories with an old acquaintance from many years ago. Hopefully I can convince Gudrun to come back here with me so I can show her some of the beauty to be seen on the route I chose.
Another observation I have is that, by communicating my dream on a scale monumentally bigger that what I achieve by stopping in Trondheim, I may leave some thinking how sad it is that I didn't really achieve my expressed dream. That shouldn't be the case. I visualized something that I didn't really comprehend. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed every experience I had on this trip. I am grateful for the support and encouragement I received from my family and friends. I simply have run out of gas.
So, Trondheim, Norway will be the end of the line for this journey. It's only roughly one quarter of the way through the "Aachen-North Cape-Aachen" route of the original plan. It's only half way through the Aachen-North Cape part. But it's where I feel I need to stop.
Today I handed my bicycle over to Trondheim Sykkelservice. They will prepare it for transport and load it in the bike box being sent to them by SendBike.com. The bike will be picked up by DHL on Monday, and I should have it back by Thursday at the latest.
My flight ticket is purchased, and I should be home in Aachen by late Saturday afternoon. Tomorrow I'm going to be a Trondheim tourist.
What a great experience this has been. I am thankful for my dear Gudrun's understanding in allowing me to have the time for this trip. I am happy to soon be going home to her, my daughter, Maria and my friends. -- I'm a happy and a lucky man.
The past few days gave me some great new experiences for the Norway portion of this trip. It started off on 5 June with my first +100 km day since leaving Denmark. I got a very early start after two nights in Tretten, NO and managed 113 km before stopping at a campground in Dovreskogen, NO. The ride was still uphill, but it was more akin to riding the Vennbahn route from Aachen. I had very slight uphill grades, so the conditioning was really visible as I was able to maintain a fairly good clip. Most of the route paralleled a river and many small, beautiful lakes.
The next day quickly took care of the euphoria of 113 km achieved the day before. The ride started off well, but the serious climb to Dombås started about 20 km into the day. First, there was the climb to Dombås, NO which was made more challenging by a good deal of road construction. In Dombås I took some time for a coffee break, because I knew the really tough part of the day was yet to come. -- Shortly after I finished my break and had again started northwards, I found myself on my feet. I really hate pushing my bike up a hill. Fortunately for me I only had to dismount and push a couple hundred meters. Unfortunately for me, after I managed to get back on the bike, the rest of the climb (6 km) had to be done in 2nd or 1st gear. When I finally reached a level stretch I was at the snow line and, surprisingly enough, there was a restaurant and nice rest stop. It was lunchtime and I was wasted from the climbing, so I pulled in to find the parking lot crammed with antique motorcycles (and many antique motorcycle riders). I had stumbled across the day-3 lunchtime rest stop for the annual Norwegian Motorcycle Club's Antique Motorcycle 4-Day Oslo-Trondheim-Oslo Rally. It was really great seeing all the old motorcycles and chatting with many of the riders.
After leaving the lunch stop, I only rode another 10 or 15 km. The very long climb had really taken a lot from my old legs. Near Hjerkinn, NO, still short of the highest point of my trip, is where I found the campground with the best cabin I experienced so far. This one made me really miss my sweet Gudrun. This would be a nice place for us to spend a few days together. Maybe next year. The cabin was right near a small river and had an own bathroom, separate bedroom and living / kitchen area. They also had a small restaurant where I had really good salmon for dinner.
What goes up, must come down. On the 7th of June I was still climbing for about 5 km. At that point I crossed over the highest point of the trip. Even at this altitude, I started the morning in short sleeves. The warm weather seems to never end. -- After 5 km I started what in effect was a 45 km downhill ride. Of course there were relatively flat stretches, but much of the ride was like flying really low. Wow! That is sure fun. The route paralleled a river that was losing altitude as fast as I was, and, thus, had many small waterfalls and epic stretches of whitewater. I made it to Otta, NO for an early lunch (I hadn't had any breakfast.). I almost made 100 km again on this day, but stopped just short of that at a campground in Rennebu, NO where I again had a really nice cabin. This one didn't have all the amenities of the one the previous evening, but it was almost brand new. -- Late this afternoon the weather started to really close in, and I felt the temperature dropping by the minute. I was a little concerned when I checked the weather forecast for the next day and saw there was a slight chance of snow!
I got up early on the 8th of June and found that, though cold, the weather was not as bad as was forecasted. It had rained during the night and would certainly rain again at some point during the day. But, it was dry enough to push off towards Trondheim. -- At the beginning of the ride I again had long downhill stretches with many, many fantastic views and river whitewater scenes. One really can't imagine what it is like to turn every curve in the road only to once again think, "Wow! That is sure a beautiful sight!" -- One "normal" thing about today (remembering from my old Air Force days)... It was cold, rained off and on all day, and the wind was a nightmare. The strange thing about the day was riding and knowing that Trondheim sits at sea level directly on a fjord and being frustrated by the last long climb before reaching the city. It really sucked when, starting 20 km before Trondheim I was faced with three tough hills. The first two were short, but very steep. The last one was a 4 km long 1st and 2nd gear doozie! Ugh! At least it was downhill into the city. -- The city! It's still as beautiful as I remembered. One of the first sights to greet me was the Nidaros Cathedral. Soon after that I was looking at the old buildings of the Trondheim harbor. I will be glad to have some time in Trondheim to walk around and be a sight-seeing tourist.